Ontario-based solar manufacturer Silfab Solar has joined forces with Dutch conglomerate DSM to launch the production of back-contact solar modules across Canada and the United States.
In a statement to pv magazine, Silfab said that the new production will have a combined capacity of around 300 MW, and it will be located at its existing facility in Toronto, Ontario and at an unspecified location in the United States. 150 MW production lines will be deployed at each of the two sites. “Silfab is in the late stages of securing a manufacturing facility in the United States for production in late 2018,” said a company spokesperson.
Both lines are expected to be fully operational by the end of 2019, but their launch has been planned for the first quarter of next year.
When asked if more factories may be connected to this production, such as those Silfab operated in Italy and Croatia, the company declined to disclose further information.
However, in Silfab’s press release it does mention that DSM will provide conductive back-sheets for the back-contact module production. “When you combine DSM’s innovative technology and material science capabilities with Silfab’s proven designs, we are able to realize a nearly 30 percent increase in output over conventional modules,” it stated.
The two companies are now conducting final testing to incorporate back-contact cells and conductive backsheets into Silfab’s product lines.
It is unclear if the “back contact” technology to be deployed will be an Interdigitated Back Contact (IBC) design similar to what SunPower and LG have deployed, however in a fact sheet dated in June Silfab suggested that it is “actively acquiring” next generation metal wrap through (MWT) and IBC technologies.
This cooperation envisages the integration of advanced low concentration optics into standard PV modules, using standard manufacturing processes, which is said to use “significantly less” silicon, while electrical output remains at a similar level.
In December 2017 Silfab estimated its annual production capacity at around 350 MW, with the company having ramped up from 180 MW in 2015.